Tommy Fleetwood is feeling sharper by the day as the Englishman returns to action at this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where Li Haotong of China will defend his title.
“As the weeks have progressed, I’m enjoying practising more and more now. I’m getting into the swing of things for the year. Last week I was a little bit rusty and things weren’t great.”
The 2017 Race to Dubai champion Fleetwood finished outside the top 20 on the European Tour for the first time in five months at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA, and has admitted that he felt a little rusty in his first appearance of the calendar year.
The World Number 14 – who turned 28 on Saturday – is feeling good about his game after some putting practice in between tournaments in the Middle East, and is looking to make it three successive winning seasons in 2019.
“It’s funny, because last year I felt like I played awful around here and it was my best result ever on this golf course. I feel like my game’s much better than last week, just in the practise that I’ve had. I came here on Sunday to do some work on my putting, which clearly needed some work and that’s getting better.
“Overall, I feel sharp. Like I say, I think I feel like I’m getting into the game again a little bit. Last week, I was a little bit flat at times but I was trying my hardest. It just could have been better on the golf course, but this week I felt great in practise and things are moving in the right direction. So hopefully it bodes well because I’ve always loved the golf course.
“Everybody enjoys coming to Dubai, not just for the golf, but I think as we get to come here so often – two, three times a year – everybody is so familiar and everybody feels at home. When you travel around the world so much, it’s nice to have like a few comforts that you get used to and I think that’s why everybody enjoys it so much.”
Li, meanwhile, defends the title he won in spectacular fashion last year – beating Rory McIlroy down the stretch for a second European Tour title and the biggest victory of his career.
“It’s quite a special feeling for me coming back here because it’s only the second time defending a title, so I am quite happy I can be here again.
“I was playing solid all week that week, and yesterday I did a little bit of practise around the back nine. On pretty much every hole, I can still remember every shot from the exact point. It’s such a great memory.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable. Last week, the season just started, and I just had to get used to it. I’m back playing on the same course again in a tournament I have won. Now I’m kind of finding rhythm a little bit.”